(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday said that the COVID-19 pandemic is changing but it is not over and warned that the cases are rising in 110 nations.
“This pandemic is changing but it’s not over. Our ability to track the #COVID19 virus is under threat as reporting and genomic sequences are declining meaning it is becoming harder to track Omicron and analyse future emerging variants,” Director-General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
He further added, “COVID19, driven by BA.4 and BA.5 in many places, cases are on the rise in 110 countries, causing overall global cases to increase by 20 per cent and deaths have risen in 3 of the 6 WHO regions even as the global figure remains relatively stable.”
While briefing the media on COVID-19 and other global health issues, Ghebreyesus said that the WHO had called on all countries to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of their population.
He further said that in the past 18 months, more than 12 billion vaccines have been distributed globally.
“On the flip side, hundreds of millions of people, including tens of millions of health workers and older people in lower-income countries remain unvaccinated, which means they are more vulnerable to future waves of the virus,” the WHO chief said.
“With only 58 countries hitting the 70 per cent target, some have said it’s not possible for low-income countries to make it,” he said.
Ghebreyesus gave the example of Rwanda where second dose vaccination rates are now above 65 per cent and still rising. The WHO chief underlined that it is important to keep the most at-risk groups up to date with vaccination.
Earlier, DG Ghebreyesus said that though Monkeypox presently does not amount to a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, the emergency nature of the event requires intense response efforts.
Taking to Twitter, DG Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote, “While the Emergency Committee didn’t advise that the #monkeypox outbreak represents a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, they acknowledged the emergency nature of the event requiring intense response efforts.”
“They advised that I should reconvene them quickly based on the evolving situation, which I will do,” he added.
While expressing concerns over the sustained transmission of the virus the DG said that the children and pregnant women are at a high risk of catching the infection.
“I am concerned about sustained transmission because it would suggest that the virus is establishing itself and it could move into high-risk groups including children, the immunocompromised and pregnant women,” WHO tweeted quoting DG Ghebreyesus.
He further said that Nigeria has been battling a monkeypox outbreak since 2017. The country has reported more cases this year, which could mean it matches or exceeds previous peaks.